Author Topic: Picking Cain's Brains  (Read 17889 times)

Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #150 on: January 17, 2016, 09:54:14 am »
Basically, no-one ever really planned for a post-Cold War world.

Sure, I'm sure someone, in a basement in Langley or the Pentagon, wrote a speculative analysis of how the Soviet Union might collapse and the immediate aftermath....but chances were that person a) didn't have much of a career anyway, and b) wasn't taken seriously.  All the "serious" people were either the professional Kreminologists, who were so far in the box the idea that their may no longer even be a box couldn't occur to them, and the "Team B" style nutters who spent most of the 70s and 80s hyping the Soviet threat.

So, the Soviet Union collapses.  Russia undergoes a....worrying period where Soviet hardliners try to take power, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by Yeltsin taking power and ruthlessly crushing the competition.  Civil and interstate wars break out everywhere from Yugoslavia to the Caucasus to Central Asia as former Soviet states or factions within them try to settle scores and grab as much cash and land as possible (Pakistan played an interesting and covert role in helping stir up trouble in those states with a large number of Muslims, directing the mujahideen problem it helped create away from its own borders).

In addition to this, the collapse of Soviet support also impacted on groups in Africa.  Covert funding for wars in the USSR's interest dried up, giving a shot in the arm to groups who didn't rely on Moscow's benevolence.  Arms also flooded the market, as former Soviet military officers seized and stole military supplies in the collapse of the Union.  Ukraine in particular became a well known nexus of international arms smuggling.

So that's the background context.  In addition to that, the 1990s saw the vicious return of civil wars, religiously inspired terrorism and mass human suffering while, at the same time, the global economy was becoming more interconnected and international travel was becoming ever easier.  So you have Somalia, Rwanda, the rise of groups like Hamas and Al-Qaeda...and even internaly this was an issue in the USA.  WTC bombing in 1993, the rise of the militia/Patriot movement, culminating in the OKC Bombing in 96...and the spectre that, in this chaos, a terrorist group may acquire WMDs.  Aum Shinrikyo, even though they made their own, showed this fear was not without foundation, as did the constant smuggling of nuclear material into Europe by way of Russia (European police and intelligence agencies picked up a lot during the 90s).

The US, looking at this situation, can only come to one conclusion, "shit is fucked".  The Soviet Union's collapse created a global power vacuum which a thousand, tiny, disparate actors stepped into, spreading misery and ruin around the world.  NATO was "helpful", but Europe was barely unified, and its military spending was slacking off without a Russian threat on the borders to justify it.  China wasn't going to help...China wanted exactly two things, to make massive amounts of money, and to stare at its navel when asked about foreign issues.  Japan was constitutionally restrained, and economically a basket case.  Russia was a complete disaster in the making, and might not even be around in a decade the way things were going.

9/11 just reinforced alll these fears.

America, much like empires before it, needed to impose order on the world.  By integrating those states that stood outside the system into the global capitalist market economy, it could put them in a situation where they were inside a system in which America was dominant and impose a form of order on them.  Control outsourced, managed by foreign direct investment and Wall Street, the investment bankers and so on.  And if those nations werent willing to open their economies to such measures...well, that was what the military was for, right?  Go in, smash the existing system, depose the rulers and set up a new system run by whatever locals weren't profiting from the previous system.

Same for the terrorist groups, the nonstate actors, the insurgents.  They were hiding out at the borders of the nation-states, in places where there was no real rule of law, no effective governance.  Go in, smash the groups, and set up a new government to oversee integration into the global system.  It sounds so easy, right?

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #151 on: January 17, 2016, 02:56:22 pm »
Thanks for this. It's definitely a new perspective beyond the "American ego-driven empire".
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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #152 on: January 17, 2016, 05:01:21 pm »
Cain, that was great. Thanks.

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #153 on: January 18, 2016, 12:00:46 am »
This makes so much sense.  Thanks a lot, Cain!
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As a neuroscientist I have to disagree with the perception that anyone is doing mathematical modeling of cognitive intelligence, yet; intelligence as an economist defines it, yes, but economists are worlds away from actual cognition.


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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #154 on: February 08, 2016, 08:05:09 am »
Cain,

What are your thoughts on the Peopleís Republic of Chinaís seemingly unwavering support of North Korea?

Is the PRCís want of a buffer state between them and South Korea really worth the price? Is the PRC really that afraid of a unified Korea?

Thanks.

Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #155 on: February 08, 2016, 09:24:03 am »
I think China wants in on the DPRK's vast mineral resources, which are not insignificant.

Furthermore, supporting North Korea's acts of random omnibelligerence is a good reminder to Japan, who are poised to intervene and lay waste to China's most heavily populated and economically successful region if demanded, that such actions are not without consequence.

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #156 on: February 08, 2016, 11:26:07 am »
I think China wants in on the DPRK's vast mineral resources, which are not insignificant.

Furthermore, supporting North Korea's acts of random omnibelligerence is a good reminder to Japan, who are poised to intervene and lay waste to China's most heavily populated and economically successful region if demanded, that such actions are not without consequence.

Thanks Cain,

Iím aware of the importance and value of rare earth elements. I did not, however, know that North Korea held the worldís largest deposits. Thank you for that specific information. 

That, however, just makes Kim Jong-unís behavior even more perplexing to me. I mean, I did not know the man is sitting on top of a vast fortune, all the while allowing his people to live with the threat of starvation hanging over their heads. Itís easy to say that the guy is crazy, but really, what the hell?

All that military activity in the South China Sea, etc. has me equally baffled, even more so after reading the article you posted. But, Iím going to take some time to gather my thoughts, and Iíll post something more on that subject later on.

Thanks again.

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #157 on: February 08, 2016, 03:05:51 pm »
Nothing substantial to add, I just wanted to call "Omnibelligerence" for a future company name.
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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #158 on: February 08, 2016, 03:32:54 pm »
Also,
Quote
Pacific Century has been given a 25 year contract to develop the Jongju deposit, and reportedly intends to build a processing plant on site. However, the North Korean regime has a long history of abruptly cancelling long-term contracts with foreign companies, sometimes merely on a whim but also because of changes in the political relations between Pyongyang and the companyís home country.

During the Sunshine Policy of the 1990s, for example, many South Korean mineral companies invested heavily in North Korea, only to lose their investments when tensions between the two Koreas returned. Equally troubling for SRE Minerals, at times North Korea has encouraged foreign companies to make huge initial human and capital investments in the country, only to kick out the companies after these investments had been made. This is what happened to the Xiyang Group, a huge Chinese mining conglomerate, who invested $40 million in building a mine and training North Koreans only to be ordered to leave the country once domestic workers could handle the work independently.

That's fucking hilarious.

And also surprising really. If you're the kind of outfit that can take a punt on this level of cash, surely you have ways and means of enforcing and securing your investment? Apparently not.

Or it's possibly a cracking tax write off. "Can't pay, NK stole my shit".
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #159 on: February 09, 2016, 08:04:02 am »
I think China wants in on the DPRK's vast mineral resources, which are not insignificant.

Furthermore, supporting North Korea's acts of random omnibelligerence is a good reminder to Japan, who are poised to intervene and lay waste to China's most heavily populated and economically successful region if demanded, that such actions are not without consequence.

Thanks Cain,

Iím aware of the importance and value of rare earth elements. I did not, however, know that North Korea held the worldís largest deposits. Thank you for that specific information. 

That, however, just makes Kim Jong-unís behavior even more perplexing to me. I mean, I did not know the man is sitting on top of a vast fortune, all the while allowing his people to live with the threat of starvation hanging over their heads. Itís easy to say that the guy is crazy, but really, what the hell?

All that military activity in the South China Sea, etc. has me equally baffled, even more so after reading the article you posted. But, Iím going to take some time to gather my thoughts, and Iíll post something more on that subject later on.

Thanks again.

North Korea's political behaviour is constrained by specific internal conditions.  Specifically the North Korean military has a very large say in North Korean politics, and maintaining a state of affairs where North Korea is considered hostile and suspect by the world at large strengthens their hand in internal politics.  North Korea could open itself up to trade, liberalize...but that would weaken the military to the benefit of the North Korea Workers Party who, in this scenario, would quick likely develop along similar lines to the Chinese Communist Party.

My thinking is that China would like to see such a development, and indeed some of the early developments in North Korea when Jong-Un assumed power suggested this may be the case.  However, political leaders in North Korea who could've reigned in the military were either sidelined, or killed by Jong-Un for bizarre and implausible acts of "treason".  Jong-Un also wasn't seen publically for several months.  IMO, a palace coup occured, with the military taking firm control of the regime and leaving Jong-Un as a figurehead.

China isnt thrilled about that outcome, I suspect, but so long as North Korea's military is willing to stress its beserker opposition to South Korea, Japan and America, it acts as a potential headache for any future naval war between Japan and China.  So they're willing to live with it, for now.

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #160 on: February 18, 2016, 05:07:17 am »
Any suggestions on a good, concise version of the Thai political crisis from 2008 on? Wikipedia article fried my damn brain.
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #161 on: February 18, 2016, 04:29:21 pm »
Any suggestions on a good, concise version of the Thai political crisis from 2008 on? Wikipedia article fried my damn brain.

As you may have guessed from the Wikipedia article, the Thai crisis has incredibly deep roots in Thai history, geography and politics, which means learning about it in any kind of depth means doing an undergrad course in Thai Modern History, in essence.

This is a pretty decent timeline, while this gives some more insight into the major players.  The influence of the royal family cannot be underestimated, so I'd also give this a look.

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #162 on: February 18, 2016, 04:40:23 pm »
Any suggestions on a good, concise version of the Thai political crisis from 2008 on? Wikipedia article fried my damn brain.

As you may have guessed from the Wikipedia article, the Thai crisis has incredibly deep roots in Thai history, geography and politics, which means learning about it in any kind of depth means doing an undergrad course in Thai Modern History, in essence.

This is a pretty decent timeline, while this gives some more insight into the major players.  The influence of the royal family cannot be underestimated, so I'd also give this a look.

Thanks! I found this guy giving no fucks and the article was just a little too current events focused to get me all the way there: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jun/20/thailand
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Cain

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #163 on: February 18, 2016, 05:58:29 pm »
Yeah, back at the start of 2014 I wrote an article on Thailand for a website...did about three days worth of research to come to the conclusion "shit is fucked and won't get fixed very quickly".  I'm sure I still have it somewhere, if you want a look?

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Re: Picking Cain's Brains
« Reply #164 on: February 18, 2016, 06:10:26 pm »
I think I've got enough for the short blurb from that timeline. Not entirely sure I've got enough room in the ol' brainmeats for the full breakdown. Don't let my lameness stop you if it's something you want to dig up, though!
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